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gastro ./ gastrointestinal stromal tumor

New Diet Drug, Alli, May Have Explosive Results
By Debbie Fontana
On February 7, 2007, GlaxoSmithKline PLC received FDA approval to begin selling an over-the-counter diet drug called Alli. This drug is a new version of orlistat - similar to the prescription drug, Xenical, that is already on the market.

Alli will be a 60-milligram capsule which is about half the strength of the prescription version. It is expected to be available sometime this summer at a cost of about $1 $2 a day.

It will be the only FDA-approved weight-loss product available over the counter.

**How It Works**

Alli is only for people 18 years of age and older. By itself, the drug is not expected to be that effective. It should be used in conjunction with a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet and an exercise program.

One capsule should be taken before every meal that contains fat. Alli works by blocking the absorption of some of that dietary fat in the gastrointestinal tract.

Six-month clinical trials of the drug showed that obese people lost approximately one more pound a month. Not a week, a month. In my opinion, that's a minor benefit.

** The Potentially Disgusting Side Effects**

Gastrointestinal side effects are believed to be common with orlistat. These may include fecal urgency or incontinence, explosive diarrhea, anal leakage, increased number of bowel movements, abdominal cramping and oily discharge.

Depending on how severe these gastrointestinal side effects may be (if you experience them at all), you may need to wear adult diapers or you could end up with soiled undies.

The smell would probably be unpleasant as well, especially if Alli shares Xenical's potential side effect of gas with fecal discharge.

For an extra pound a month, I wouldn't want to suffer those gastrointestinal side effects. It sounds messy, stinky, and potentially humiliating if you can't control your bowel movements in public.

If you start experiencing these side effects, you'd better not be too far from a bathroom.

**If That's Not Bad Enough For You, There's More**

Along with dietary fat, Alli may decrease the absorption of some fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and beta-carotene.

We need these nutrients to keep us healthy.

For example, Vitamin E may help your heart or prevent blood clots. Vitamin K may help your blood to clot normally.

You may need to take a daily multivitamin to counteract these effects. But you should see your doctor for specific medical advice.

There are other potential side effects as well.

For example, I believe that diabetics, people on immunosuppressant or blood-thinning drugs, or patients with thyroid disease are not supposed to take orlistat.

But again, you should check with your doctor to be sure that this drug is safe for you.

**Is It Worth It?**

Is losing an extra pound a month really worth the risk of these potential side effects? Couldn't the same results be achieved through diet and exercise alone?

And how do people feel who experience these side effects? Apart from inconvenience and possible humiliation, wouldn't you feel sick from the effects? I thought the point of weight loss was to feel better.

Or is this just a way of preying on the desperation of obese people? And making a lot of money in the process?

Important Disclaimer: This information is presented for educational purposes only. This isn't medical advice and it's not a substitute for any advice or treatment from your physician. You should always see your doctor before taking any new medication or starting any new weight loss regimen.

Copyright (c) 2007 Debbie Fontana

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Want to weigh in with your views? Debbie Fontana, who specializes in writing about weight loss, health, and nutrition, welcomes your comments about this or any other article on her blog. Visit her at


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